India”s success in fighting tuberculosis, malaria, lymphatic filariasis and other infectious diseases will determine whether new drugs, diagnostics, vaccines and other prevention tools can be deployed effectively and affordably at scale to eliminate these diseases from the world, an official of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said.
Speaking at a lecture organised by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) and the AIIMS, Trevor Mundel, President of Global Health, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) threw light on India”s role in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
He said India due to its sheer size and population –nearly 20 per cent of the world population –- will play a key role in determining whether the world achieves the SDGs, especially those in maternal and child health.
Mundel also emphasised the crucial role the country”s rapidly emerging leadership in biotechnology and artificial intelligence can play in creating newer tools and technologies, which can help the country achieve health equity and take leadership in addressing global health challenges.
Regarding India”s vaccine development capacity, the official said, “No other country among the world”s emerging economies has the same combination of world-class biomedical research, effective translational research expertise, capacity to design and implement highly powered clinical trials, and capacity to produce health products that meet the stringent regulatory standards of the World Health Organization (WHO).”
Mentioning some of the challenges, Mundel said India has 1 million “missing cases” of tuberculosis (TB) and has the opportunity of developing improved solutions for TB case finding and reporting, and treatment adherence.
Nutrition is another area of challenge as the National Nutrition Mission has set the goal of reducing percentage of stunted children from 38.4 to 25 per cent by 2022, he said.
This was the second lecture in the newly launched DBT-BIRAC Leadership Dialogue Series – a platform where global leaders from various domains can share their experiences and interact with the scientific community.
The lecture titled “Innovating for Impact: How India can lead in helping solve some of the world”s toughest health challenges” primarily focused on India”s potential in addressing global health issues, and challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.
AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria said the premier medical institute is collaborating extensively with national and international partners in new areas to deal with emerging healthcare challenges.
“Considering the high cost of healthcare, we are collaborating research in frugal innovations to develop efficient and low-cost treatment strategies relevant to developing world and emerging markets,” he said.
Guleria added that access to affordable health technology remains a massive challenge not just in developing countries, but also in the developed world where the pressure on healthcare budgets is immense.